Now that my Asheville trip is ending, it is time to share my favorite parts. After each time I travel, I have categorized the locations I visited into three buckets:
- Completed – Cross It Off The List
- Unclear – If you crossed it off, you’d be okay. If you went again, you’d be okay.
- Not Finished – These are the places you definitely want to return to.
Asheville, NC falls into the Not Finished category. Asheville has been our home for the past 5 weeks. There is more hiking, more breweries, more restaurants, and more exploring that we could do here. In this post, I will share our 5 “Must-Do” Items in Asheville.
If you come to Asheville and do not immerse yourself into nature at least one time, you have missed the point. Asheville is a mountain town and surrounded by some of the largest mountains on the East Coast (Mount Mitchell). There are hikes for all comfort-levels. Some of the easy “hikes” have boardwalks, but still allow you to take in the gorgeous sights.
My favorite hike was the Mount Pisgah Trail via Mount Pisgah Trailhead. We hiked the 2.5 mile route and I am not sure I would have been able to complete the 4.5 mile option. It was a hard, but rewarding hike.
Other notable hikes are: Mount Mitchell Loop, Craggy Gardens Trail (would be best in Spring), and Craven Gap. If you want to see the top of Mount Mitchell, without much effort, you should do the Mount Mitchell Summit Trail. It is 0.4 miles and tagged as Easy. Now, if 0.4 miles still seems daunting, you should drive the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are gorgeous overlooks.
I have written a more in-depth post just about drinking in Asheville. Click the title of this section to see more. Here I will share my top 2 breweries (one local, one well-known):
Location: Woodfin, NC
Out of all of the local breweries, Zillicoah was my favorite. They have a ton of places to sit: indoors, outdoors under an awning, and outdoors on the grass. Both times, we went for their Blues Jam Session on Sundays. The musicians were very talented. Also, their beer list was bigger and more diverse in types of beer than other breweries.
Location: River Arts District
We went to New Belgium Brewing two times. The first time, we went in the middle of the day in the middle of the week in June. The outdoor section was under construction and the place was fairly empty. We ordered a flight and this was the first time I tried a sour. Whenever we were out and it was on the menu, I ordered the Mimosa Sour for the rest of the trip.
The second time we went, it was the Sunday afternoon of Labor Day Weekend. The sun was shining, the outdoor section was open, and the place was packed. This time, I only ordered my Mimosa Sour. It has since become one of my favorite beers. Previously, I didn’t really have a favorite beer.
As I did with the drinking section, I wrote an in-depth post about Food as well. Click the title of this section to see more. In my blog post I talk about BBQ, Restaurants, Food Trucks, & Take Out. Here I will share my top BBQ, Restaurants, & Take Out:
Location: River Arts District
I feel like when you eat BBQ, you want to leave feeling full and satisfied. At 12 Bones, the sauces are incredible. I ordered the ribs and was given so much food. It was enough for at least two meals. The mac & cheese was also noteworthy.
Location: Downtown Asheville
SIMPLY THE BEST. There is a reason Chai Pani is on so many lists for places to eat in Asheville. The decor is so cute if you are able to sit inside. If not, their outdoor seating is decorated with a vibrant yellow that instantly makes you feel happy. Decor aside, their menu is unique and filled with flavor.
We have eaten here twice. The first time we ordered only Street Food and ate family-style. We ordered Bhel Puri, Sev Potato Dahi Puri, Aloo Tiki Chaat, and Chicken Pakoras. There were four people eating and each person had a different favorite dish. Mine was the Sev Potato Dahi Puri.
On our second visit, we ordered the Uttapam, but by the time it came to the table, we were already stuffed. If you are going to order the Uttapam, I would recommend skipping the Street Food.
Location: Downtown Asheville
Crave Dessert Bar is such a cool concept. The decor was dark and moody with youthful art. They had a painting of Goldfish, yes the snack that smiles back. The menu makes you want to order everything. It is complete with “sippable desserts”. We did not try any, but they sounded enticing.
We ordered the Molten Lava Cake & the Bread Pudding. Both were rich and delectable. Come with an empty stomach.
It was so amazing we ordered take out with them twice. The first time we ordered Fried Rice, Basil Stir Fry, and Drunken Noodles. We ordered them all at the spicy level – Medium. They were not spicy at all, but still very flavorful. Our favorites were the Basil Stir Fry & Drunken Noodles.
The second time we ordered the Drunken Noodles & Sweet and Sour Stir Fry with the spicy level – Hot. The jump from Medium to Hot was insane. Our food was so spicy, but just the way we liked it. We were sad when we finished both dishes. Beware of how spicy you order your food. I would recommend doing 1 hot and 1 medium if you like spicy food.
My favorite activity, outside of hiking, was tubing down the French Broad River. We went with a company called ZenTubing from their Midtown location. You should read about their requirements before you go. You will need shoes (water or sandals) because the bottom of the lake is rocky.
There is an option to get a “cooler tube” so your cooler can float down the river with you. Pick this option. It is a great spot to put sunscreen, drinks, snacks, and extra clothing. The river is very mild, so there is a low risk of having your belongings flip into the water. ZenTubing is an adult lazy river in real life.
It can take a few hours to complete, so make sure you bring snacks. I wish I brought a Subway sandwich. Some people brought speakers, but I think it was nice to float quietly. Also, we did not bring our phones, but we easily could have.
A to-do post of mine wouldn’t be complete without shopping. I went shopping in one area, North Lexington Avenue, and there were so many places to look. There were a ton of shops and they varied in price. Some were on the pricier end, but they carried unique brands and assortments that would’ve made it worth it. Also, I liked that they supported local small businesses.
Asheville had a lot of vintage shops that carried a bigger assortment of 50s and 60s than I’d ever seen before. Most of the time I have been to vintage shops, they are selling mostly 90s apparel. It was refreshing to see other decades being represented and I wish the garments were my size!
Shopping is so personal. Everyone has different preferences, sizes, and budgets. I will say, you are likely to be successful if you go to North Lexington Avenue. I would start near the corner of N. Lexington & Woodfin Street.
If you are planning a shopping day, wear an outfit that is easy to change in and out of. Also, pick an outfit that has a top & bottom (not a dress) and requires the underwear that you wear most often. Lastly, make sure you feel confident in your appearance. There is nothing worse than shopping and feeling discouraged because you didn’t show up as your best self.
For me, this means making sure I am having a good hair day. For others, this may mean that you should wear makeup when you go shopping. When clothes fit and you look in the mirror and think, “damn I look good”, it is a much better experience. There are so many times I have not bought a great item because I looked “off” that day. Our clothes should help express our most confident selves, so it is important to show up already feeling confident.
Pick something from my “must-do” list that you would not usually do on your travels. Exploring a new city is a great opportunity to expand your comfort zone a little.